Three thousand years ago a Psalmist wrote, “Your inheritance was worn out, but You refreshed it (Ps 67:10).”
As I considered this, three millennia collapsed and the worn-out Psalmist from the Palestinian desert was suddenly in the room commiserating with me.
“So, why am I worn out?” I asked the weary time-traveler. “You do it to yourself,” he said. The smell of old lanolin coming off his frayed cloak was comforting. But I didn’t like the answer. “Myself?”
“God makes even difficult things easy if we accept them. I stand around watching sheep all day and night. You think that’s easy?” His dark eyes rolled. “Everyone thinks it’s easy, but it’s boring like you wouldn’t believe.” The eyes widened. “But if I look at my job expecting to find joy, I see lots of delightful things I would have missed if I stewed about it, wishing things were different.
“In fact, just yesterday after I caught up with a stray sheep, I noticed a butterfly dabbing its tongue on my salty hand. For a few moments, we were everything to each other—me providing what it needed and it being the beauty I craved in the endless flat stoniness of that place.
“I’m telling you, everything unpleasant—the dryness, the heat, the sameness—it all evaporated and my soul was filled with only beauty and communion with this bright little creature. Try to experience something like that when you’re rushing around. God makes all things easy, even joyful, but we make easy things difficult if we’re fighting against them.”
I pondered this. “So when I feel worn out, it’s because I’m fighting reality?”
“Yep,” he said. “You’re overlooking the beauty right in front of you. You’re trying to force something else to happen, but you can’t. Fighting reality will always wear you out. Most of all, you’re overlooking the hidden goodies God is putting right in front of you by focusing on something that isn’t even real.”
I looked at him skeptically. “But worn out means worn out. How does God refresh me?”
He raised an abundant eyebrow. “In unexpected ways, like the butterfly. I always recognize His refreshment when what was bothering me—the tedium, the worry—becomes simple. That doesn’t mean the pain goes away, but the beauty of the moment overshadows it and I relax. I’m not fighting anymore.”
Not convinced, I answered, “I’ve tried that, but it lasts about 20 seconds. When your butterfly moved on, weren’t you back where you started?” Smiling, he said, “Keep practicing and it will get easier. Stop resisting. There are many kinds of butterflies. Keep receiving the beauty in what is always there. Always a rich quietness in a bleak landscape—it’s where you’ll find the oasis. There’s a fresh oasis every moment, if you look for it.”
I looked out the window, trying to find words. “But that all sounds like a lot of effort—not easy at all.” Looking back to my Psalmist soul-mate, I saw that he was gone. My sage friend knew that any more questions would come because I hadn’t understood what he had already said.
But I wanted to thank him for showing me how to find butterflies in the desert. At least I can pass his wisdom on to you.
Image: Wikipedia, Papilio Machaon